HYANNIS, Mass. -- Keegan Dellacona had been itching for another crack at it since his last playoff appearance with Barnstable, some two seasons ago when the then-sophomore got tossed around by Catholic Memorial for a quick exit in a 19-0 loss.
But part of Dellacona's pre-game routine involves blasting heavy metal on his headphones, so naturally he might have been a little too fired up. Especially after fanning 14 batters in a complete-game win that gave himself goosebumps.
"The anxious factor really gets to you sometimes," he said, stumbling over his words. "When you get anxious is when you start making mistakes and, you've got to take it one pitch at a time. You've got to be...not really think that much, but try and keep them off-speed, I mean, off-balance at the same time."
Then he cracked a smile -- "I mean, I'm still hyped up, I've still got the adrenaline in my body, so I'm stuttering here."
The 6-foot-3 senior turned in one of his best performances of the season in going the full nine, allowing just three hits in addition to the 14 K's, as the Red Raiders advanced to Friday's Division 1 South semifinals with a 5-0 win over Framingham.
And try as he might, he couldn't stay calm.
"I try not to get hyped up [before starts], I try to keep to myself," Dellacona said. "But I was really excited for today. Sophomore year, Catholic Memorial shelled me -- I was horrible -- so I was really anxious for today, to get back out here in the playoffs and do good."
Meanwhile, the bats of the Red Raiders (16-4) gave Dellacona plenty of run support against a Flyers (12-8) squad still beaming from a shocking upset of state championship contender BC High yesterday afternoon. Mark Brodd and Sam Holway each stole a base to start off the bottom of the second, and Dennis Beynor blasted a two-out single to the left-centerfield gap to send them both home and make it 2-0.
The Raiders plated two more runs in their next trip up, with Everett Walsh hitting a sacrifice fly to right, followed by a Brodd RBI single. Walsh popped another sac-fly to right in the fifth for the 5-0 advantage.
Dellacona retired the final 17 batters he face in succession to pick up the win, and he did it with an efficient combination of a hanging curve and two-seam fastball with some late life.
"His two-seamer had some run on it today, so he was eating the outside corners," Barnstable head coach Joe DeMartino said. "Just throwing it, and having to come back over the plate. Those guys looked like they'd never seen a two-seamer like that before, he could put it where he wanted it today."
Dellacona's outing is the second straight complete-game outing for the Raiders in as many playoff games. UConn-bound righthander Willie Nastasi, who struck out seven and allowed five hits against Catholic Memorial on Saturday, will get the nod Friday night at Quincy's Adams Field, against the winner of tomorrow's quarterfinal between Franklin and Taunton.
Heist in Hyannis: The Raiders stole second a whopping eight times to manufacture the runs -- including five times over the second and third innings alone, and two each from Morris, Brodd, and Tyler Adams. DeMartino said after getting a look in the first inning, when Dylan Morris dove into second cleanly, he put on the green light.
"We try to at least get a look early," DeMartino said. "We happened to get one in the first inning, and it was apparent we could take bags, so we kept on going."
Like Framingham, the Raiders also belong to a league that plays nine innings with wooden bats. How much did those games -- where small-ball tactics are often deployed in lieu of the lighter amount of hits -- condition them for these playoff-type games?
"I think ever since I got in here, we wanted to do those little things correctly," DeMartino said. "Once you get a guy on, if there's no outs get him over and try to get him in. We practice that a lot. It helps, and it's apparent that we do practice that, because we got it done [today]."
Flying High: The Flyers came up goose-egg this afternoon, but after yesterday's turn of events, can you blame them? Led by a lights-out performance from ace Johnnie Lacy on the mound, Framingham delivered the upset uppercut of the MIAA tournament -- and, possibly, the year -- with a 3-2 win over Catholic Conference juggernaut BC High, a team many had pegged as a favorite for the Division 1 state championship.
"That's a win these kids are always going to remember, let's face it," head coach Dan Avery conceded. "Lacy was phenomenal yesterday, pretty much dominated, just really gave intensity. We looked tired, but you know, you get a win like that, you expound a lot of energy.
"I'm afraid of saying something like that and taking away from them [Barnstable], because they're a good-looking team. I didn't see any weaknesses -- if you saw them, I don't know where they were."